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Fighting for the Little Guy in Portland & Beyond

If I Have Filed Bankruptcy, Can I File a Bankruptcy Again?

As most people have heard, if you filed a bankruptcy case in the past you have to wait a certain number of years before you can file a new one. The question of how many years of a wait depends on whether the earlier case was a Chapter 7 or 13 case, and also on whether the new case will be a Chapter 7 or 13 case.

  • Filing Chapter 7 after earlier Chapter 7: 8 YEARS. If you filed an earlier Chapter 7 case, and received a discharge (legal write-off) of your debts in that case, and now want to file another Chapter 7 case, you have to wait 8 years. That 8-year period is counted from the day that prior case was filed with the Bankruptcy Court, NOT when it was finished, until the new case’s filing date.

We emphasize that this rule only applies if that earlier Chapter 7 case was completed up through the discharge of your debts. Almost all consumer bankruptcy cases result in the granting of a discharge, so it is unlikely that your prior case did not. But in rare situations cases get dismissed (thrown out), and so do not result in a discharge. In that case, the 8-year time period was never triggered, and you can file anytime. If you still have any of the paperwork from your earlier case, bring it in and we’ll look it over. If you don’t still have the paperwork or it’s incomplete, we can usually find what we need through our electronic access to the Bankruptcy Court. Just be sure to tell us that you had an earlier case.

  • Filing Chapter 7 after earlier Chapter 13: 6 YEARS. If you filed and received a discharge in an earlier Chapter 13 case and want to file a Chapter 7 case now, you have to wait 6 years from the day that earlier case was filed to the day this new case is filed.

Same as above, this restriction does not apply if your old Chapter 13 case did not make it all the way to the discharge. This is much more common in Chapter 13 than Chapter 7, so this is something we want to be sure about. So again bring in whatever you have on that earlier case, and we’ll also check with the court records.

Notice here too that the six-year period starts at the FILING date of the old Chapter 13 case. Since successful Chapter 13 cases can take as long as 5 years, and sometimes even a few months longer, as a result the time between the completion of such a case and the point when a new Chapter 7 can be filed could be as short as a year or so

  • Filing Chapter 13 after earlier Chapter 7: 4 YEARS. If you filed an earlier Chapter 7 case and received a discharge in that case, and now want to file a Chapter 13 case, you have to wait 4 years. And yes, that’s 4 years from filing date to filing date.

Filing Chapter 13 after earlier Chapter 13: 2 YEARS. If you filed an earlier Chapter 13 case and received a discharge in that case, and now want to file another Chapter 13 case, you have to wait 2 years. One last time, that’s 2 years from earlier filing date to new filing date.

There’s an important twist to these last two time periods, which we’ll cover in our next blog but are mentioning here to avoid being misleading. It arises quite rarely, but adds another weapon to our arsenal of options. In fact you CAN file a Chapter 13 case earlier than the 4-year and 2 year time periods we just told you about. But if you do so YOU DON’T GET A DISCHARGE of your debts in that new Chapter 13 case.

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